Windies players champion ICC Think Wise
Bridgetown, Barbados — West Indies players, led by captain Darren Sammy along with Australian stars Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting took part in coaching clinics with local children in Barbados as part of the ICC’s global Think Wise campaign, a partnership that aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma about HIV and AIDS in cricket-playing countries.
The partnership between the International Cricket Council, the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has been helping reduce stigma and discrimination towards young people living with HIV since 2003.
The West Indies squad hosted a cricket coaching session at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Friday, 6 April, with a group of children from local schools on the island. Adrian Barath, Devendra Bishoo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine and Fidel Edwards provided fielding, bowling and batting practice to the youngsters before participating in a discussion on HIV with them.
West Indies captain and all rounder Darren Sammy said: “Today has been a fantastic day, the children have really enjoyed it and it has been great for us to spend some time with them. They look up to us, so I am happy to be able to use my profile to help them learn about such important issues as HIV and AIDS. It’s great to put smiles on kids’ faces and at the same time address the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.”
Dr Ernest Massiah, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for the Caribbean, agreed, saying: “The Eastern Caribbean can eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV because we have the means to prevent it. West Indian people can play a part by addressing the negative attitudes and judgments associated with HIV. This would allow mothers across our region to feel safe and confident about accessing life-saving testing, treatment, care and support.”
Earlier in the week (Sunday, April 1), Australia hosted a group of children also at Kensington Oval before participating in a discussion on HIV with the youngsters. Australia is currently touring the Caribbean and will begin the first of a three-match Digicel Test series today at Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Mike Hussey, Ricky Ponting, Nathan Lyon, Michael Beer and Mitch Starc provided bowling and batting practice to the children before Ponting and assistant coach Justin Langer provided fielding coaching.
Australia batsman Mike Hussey said: “HIV and AIDS affect people all around the world, including in many cricket playing countries. I’m really delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with these children today, and help them learn more about HIV and AIDS. It’s really important that sports players support causes such as the Think Wise campaign, and I am really happy to have played a role in spreading the message that no child should be born with HIV, and no mother should feel fear or shame about accessing care for HIV or AIDS.
“We all have a role to play in addressing stigma and discrimination, and the children we met today can help spread that message.”
Dr Massiah summed up the week’s activities by adding: “I am thrilled that players from both the West Indies and Australia have supported the Think Wise campaign. The children have loved meeting their favourite players and learning some new skills. At the same time, they have gained awareness about HIV and the importance of treating all people with equal respect and compassion. Like the cricketers, these children can be agents of change in their families, communities and schools as we work towards an AIDS-free generation.”
UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area Khin-Sandi Lwin agreed, commenting: “The Think Wise campaign is a great way for children to safely express themselves through sports and learn about HIV and AIDS at the same time. The children have had a wonderful time out on the pitch, and our thanks go to the players from both the West Indies and Australia for supporting the campaign.”
More information about the Think Wise partnership can be found at http://icc-cricket.yahoo.net/the-icc/social_responsibility/think_wise/index.php